International

Keep off Madhesis, India told

Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli (centre) will have to take risks while bringing in Constitutional amendments, say Nepal leaders. Photo: Kallol Bhattacherjee  

Two days after Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli extended to India his greetings for Vijaya Dashami, questions have been raised by the leading lights of the country over Mr. Oli’s plans to resolve the double jeopardy of a perceived economic blockade by India and the explosive political fissures.

The first need is to restart dialogue with the Madhesis, says Mr. Oli’s opponent Shekhar Koirala of Nepali Congress, who said that Mr Oli would have to take risks while bringing in constitutional amendments for addressing the Madhesis’ concerns and in dealing with the tricky issue of territorial demarcation of the Madhesi provinces.

“Prime Minister Oli has stopped his fire-breathing speeches against the blockade, and those supporting it, which means he is slowly focusing on the task of governance. Next, he has to initiate the amendments which will address the concerns of the Madhesi population’s citizenship issues. But the deeper issue of territorial demarcation of the Madhesi provinces will be protracted and tricky which needs a great deal of dialogue both inside Nepal and with India,” Mr. Koirala told The Hindu.

Restarting the dialogue process between India and Nepal would happen on a natural course but emotions would run high in Nepal as people would not forget the ongoing blockade for a long time, said Surendra Pandey, former Finance Minister and a leading CPN(UML) figure under Mr. Oli’s leadership. Mr. Pandey said that India should remember that enmity with Nepal would hurt it grievously, stating, “enmity among relatives is especially painful”.

But the tricky task of restarting the dialogue with India as well as with the Madhesi parties was possible, said Kanak Mani Dixit, only if Mr. Oli managed to rein in the Indian intelligence agencies operating in Nepal. Mr. Dixit, a leading public intellectual of Nepal, who is famous as the Editor of the Himal magazine, said that the history of the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Nepal should be disclosed to the people of India.

He said the responsibility for empowering the Indian intelligence agencies in Nepal lay with the Nepali Maoists as the latter invited the agencies into the country as they wanted to use the Indian intelligence agencies to get a political platform in the post-monarchy Nepal. Mr. Dixit said that over the past few years, the “guests” had become more powerful than the “hosts”. “There is nothing hidden about their role in Nepal,” Mr Dixit told The Hindu.

“Mr. Oli will have to restore the dialogue between political leaders and parties of Nepal and India as both share common sets of inspirations and ideas which allow for great chemistry. But the IB and RAW’s influence, especially in creating anti-Kathmandu sentiments in the border region of Nepal, needs to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said, suggesting that India should take note that some of the friends of the Indian ambassador Ranjit Rae, like Amaresh Kumar Singh, had been accused of stoking violence in the Madhes region. “I really wonder how a suave and accomplished diplomat like Mr Rae maintains links with persons such as Mr. Singh”. Mr Singh had been in the news earlier when his wife accused him of domestic violence.

Mr. Dixit said that in his quest to re-establish dialogue between Nepali and Indian political leaders and parties in Bihar, U.P. and West Bengal, Mr. Oli might have to use the channels of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and organisations inside the Indian government.

Some quarters have suggested that the visit of Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa to Delhi this weekend is a step toward engaging the RSS as Mr Thapa is known to be close to Hindutva figures in India.

Mr. Dixit and Mr. Pandey expressed the opinion that the blockade could not be explained rationally as both Nepal and India were hurt by it. The task before Mr. Oli, they said, was to shun provocative speeches and start a dialogue without interference from Indian agencies. “We do not have the luxury of time. Unless dialogue is started with all the political stakeholders, Nepal will end up in a violent civil conflict with itself and India will also suffer the fallout of the conflict,” warned Mr. Koirala.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 3:44:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/keep-off-madhesis-india-told/article7775294.ece

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